Rockies cool Pirates with Marquez’s help
A “Star Wars”-themed evening at Coors Field almost turned into a benches-clearing brawl between Pittsburgh and the Rockies on Saturday night.
Fired-up Colorado rookie starter German Marquez was smack in the middle of the near-brouhaha, but he was able to keep his poise and pitch seven sterling innings as the Rockies whipped the Pirates 7-3. Colorado won for the fifth time in its last six games and halted Pittsburgh’s season-best, sixgame winning streak.
“We are seeing steady growth from German, but the trick is to keep it going,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He’s done a really nice job his last three starts. He’s feeling confident and showing a great deal of poise. What I am seeing more than anything is command of his breaking ball.”
The bad blood probably started Friday night during Pittsburgh’s 13-5 rout when the Rockies plunked the Pirates four times. Blood began to boil in the sixth inning Saturday when Marquez hit Pirates star center fielder Andrew Mccutchen, who was visibly upset.
Black and Marquez both made it clear after the game that Marquez did not intentionally hit Mccutchen.
Pirates starter Chad Kuhl counter-punched in the sixth, throwing inside on leadoff hitter Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez slowly walked toward the mound as the benches and bullpens cleared. Heated words were exchanged and fingers pointed. Marquez was particularly animated. Both benches were warned, but there were no ejections.
“Listen, this is a good team as far as having each other’s backs,” Black said. “They very much have each other’s back and will always.”
Marquez came back in the seventh to set the Pirates down in order to finish his evening strong.
The Rockies needed a solid, lengthy start — and Marquez delivered, giving up two runs on just three hits. With his curveball carving up the Pirates, he struck out nine and walked only two.
“My command was really good tonight,” Marquez said. “My second pitch was really there, and I got a lot of strikeouts with it, so that was really good.”
Closer Greg Holland came on in the eighth with two on and two outs and got the dangerous Josh Bell to line out to a sprinting Charlie Blackmon, who chased down the ball in center. Although the Rockies plated two runs in the eighth on an RBI double by Alexi Amarista and a run-scoring single by DJ Lemahieu, Holland returned for the ninth. He got himself into a bases-loaded mess with two walks, gave up a run and threw 34 pitches, but he finished the game by getting Josh Harrison to fly out to center. Holland recorded his 31st save in 32 tries.
Colorado’s offense was as timely as it was explosive.
The Rockies nicely strung together four hits in a three-run third. Marquez started it all with a one-out single to center, followed by Blackmon’s double to right. Lemahieu’s sacrifice fly scored Marquez, and Nolan Arenado sliced a double into the right-field corner to drive in Blackmon. Mark Reynolds’ single into rightcenter scored Arenado.
Bell’s leadoff homer off Marquez in the fourth cut Colorado’s lead to 3-2, but Gonzalez doubled and scored on Trevor Story’s RBI single for a 4-2 lead.
Blackmon led off the seventh with his 13th triple of the season and scored on Ian Desmond’s singlet, giving Colorado a 5-2 lead.